No. 13 Michigan State tops Bradley 75-59
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP)—Michigan State is in need of a little emotional healing.
The 13th-ranked Spartans got some with a 75-59 victory over Bradley on Sunday, but there’s still a long way to go before they get back their swagger and try to match their lofty preseason expectations.
“We’re not where we need to be at all,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said after his team used a solid second half to beat the Braves at Breslin Center. “We need some practice time right now. We need to keep everybody on the court.”
Chris Allen scored 19 points for Michigan State (5-2), which got its running game going late to spurt past Bradley.
Kalin Lucas had 12 points for the Spartans, who were coming off one of their most humbling defeats in years, a 35-point loss to No. 1 North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Theron Wilson scored 16 points and Dodie Dunson added 13 for Bradley (4-3).
Michigan State started trying to rebuild its confidence by winning the first of three straight home games. The Spartans play Alcorn State on Dec. 13, and The Citadel on Dec. 17.
The Spartans appeared sluggish early and led by just five points at halftime. But the fast break got rolling and the Spartans led by as many 21 points in the second half.
Michigan State is searching for chemistry and an identity missing during lopsided early season losses to Maryland and the Tar Heels, both from the Atlantic Coast Conference. Part of the problem for the Spartans—expected to be a power in the Big Ten and ranked sixth in the preseason Top 25—has been the absence of senior center Goran Suton, who has missed five games and is expected to be out at least the next two weeks after undergoing knee surgery.
Michigan State has also struggled with turnovers and shoddy defense at times in the early season.
The Spartans committed 19 turnovers Sunday, while Bradley had 16. But Michigan State outrebound the Braves 45-32 in its first home game since a season-opening victory over Idaho on Nov. 16.
Bradley, which had won three straight, hasn’t won a game on a Big Ten school’s home court since 1960.
The Braves led 17-11 early in the first half, but Michigan State’s transition game and 13 points from Allen helped the Spartans recover to take a 32-27 halftime lead.
“For whatever reason, they were content to be in the game after 20 minutes,” Bradley coach Jim Les said. “It’s a 40-minute game.”
Michigan State started making hustle plays in the second half, getting to balls that the Braves had been collecting in the first half.
“It was a tale of two halves,” Izzo said.
Bradley couldn’t take advantage of Michigan State fouls, making four of 11 free throws in the first half and 15 of 26 for the game. The Braves also were cold from long range, going 4-of-22 on 3-pointers.
Michigan State started the second half with a 7-2 run, including five points from Raymar Morgan, to open up a 39-29 lead with 17:23 left.
The Spartans took a 48-36 lead with 12:25 left on a dunk by Marquise Gray. Delvon Roe’s dunk, off a nifty pass from Lucas, gave Michigan State a 55-38 lead with 10:17 left.
Sophomore center Will Egolf missed his first game for Bradley after suffering a season-ending knee injury against East Tennessee State on Nov. 29. Egolf had just worked his way into the starting lineup before the injury.